Military members protected from employment discrimination

A very important employment protection for military members can be found in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301-4335. USERRA provides employment protections for the thousands of Reservists and National Guardsmen who serve part-time in the military. 

Whether their service involves a deployment or simply a monthly weekend drill, USERRA outlaws discrimination on the basis of military affiliation or service. It also requires employers to reemploy servicemembers returning from a military orders in a job of comparable pay, status, and seniority to the job they held prior to their service. USERRA protections apply regardless of whether the period of military service was voluntarily or involuntarily undertaken by the employee.

If servicemembers are not accorded their rights under USERRA, they can seek relief in federal court. Federal courts are permitted to award attorney’s fees in USERRA cases. USERRA also allows for consequential damages (double damages) in addition to actual damages.

Most USERRA rights are subject to notice and timing provisions. A military member is well advised to seek the advice of their military legal office or a private attorney with experience in military law when examining the specifics of their own situation.